KANSAS CITY -- Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano waited 21 months to return to a Major League mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2016. He made it worth the wait, striking out six over 6 2/3 scoreless innings to help the Angels extend their winning streak to five games with a 7-1 victory over the Royals in Thursday night's series opener at Kauffman Stadium.
With the win, the Angels improved to 11-3 to match their 1979 team for the best start in franchise history. Their 11 victories are the most in the Majors this season.
Tropeano allowed just six hits, walked two and threw 88 pitches in his first regular-season start since July 18, 2016. The Angels' potent offense produced 15 hits, including home runs by Ian Kinsler and Michael Trout, to help Tropeano earn his first win of the year.
"All I wanted to do was get out there and compete," Tropeano said. "A year and a half of watching all your buddies play and all you want to do is compete. I just wanted to leave it all out on the field."
In his first-bat since returning from the disabled list, Kinsler delivered a leadoff home run off Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy to give the Angels a quick 1-0 lead in the first. Kinsler, who appeared in only one game before suffering a left adductor strain, crushed Kennedy's second pitch of the game 412 feet, depositing it in the Angels' bullpen in left field for his first home run with the club.
"It's kind of blackout," Kinsler said. "I was up there trying to have a good at-bat and start the game off on the right note, trying to get yourself in a rhythm. I got ahead in the count. I have a lot of history against Kennedy. Got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."
• Kinsler hits first Halos HR in return from DL
Kennedy kept the Angels' offense in check for the rest of his outing and departed after allowing one run over six innings, but the Royals' bullpen wasn't as effective, surrendering five runs in the seventh and allowing the Angels to blow open the game. Kole Calhoun added a pair of insurance runs with a two-run, two-out single, while Shohei Ohtani drove in three with a bases-clearing triple to put the Angels ahead, 6-0.
• Ohtani clears bases with triple in 5-run 7th
Trout chipped in with a solo home run in the eighth, becoming the first Angels player to homer in the first five series of the season.
"We seem to be meshing well as a team," Kinsler said. "We're playing really well, coming up with big hits, coming from behind. Anytime you're playing baseball that way, it's exciting. Of course, you don't want to get too high, be walking around cocky or anything like that, but you're going to enjoy the times that you're playing really well and try to minimize the tough adversity during the season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Valbuena turns slick DP: The Royals threatened in the fourth after Lucas Duda and Abraham Almonte singled to put runners on first and third with one out, but Tropeano worked out of the jam with the help of third baseman Luis Valbuena, who snagged a 95-mph liner off the bat of Ryan Goins and then fired to first to pick off Almonte for an inning-ending double play, preserving the Angels' 1-0 lead.
"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Tropeano said. "That was that type of situation. We just love picking each other up."
Kinsler collected his 47th career leadoff homer on Thursday, which ranks fourth all-time behind Rickey Henderson (81), Alfonso Soriano (54) and Craig Biggio (53).
Left-hander Andrew Heaney will be activated off the disabled list on Friday and make his season debut against the Royals at 5:15 p.m. PT at Kauffman Stadium. Heaney, who missed the first 14 games of the season with left elbow inflammation, will be opposed by Kansas City right-hander Jason Hammel. It will mark Heaney's first career start against the Royals.